PAIN EASED WITH FIRST HOME WIN
IF DAGENHAM & Redbridge were to be relegated out of the Football League, few would hurt more than John Still, but the Daggers boss is hoping their first home win of the season over relegation rivals York City will reignite their survive challenge.
Defeat to the side second from bottom would have left Dagenham ten points from safety and eight below York.
But Josh Passley’s 78th-minute goal handed the Daggers their first home win of the campaign at the 20th time of asking and their first victory in ten matches in all competitions.
Dagenham are still seven points from safety, with 22nd-place Hartlepool having two games in hand on the basement club, but Saturday’s much-needed victory is a timely confidence boost.
“I’m a supporter of this club so nothing gives me more pleasure than seeing us win a game – not just winning as a manager but as a supporter,” said Still, who replaced Wayne Burnett at the Chigwell Construction Stadium in late December and has worked for the club for more than a decade during several spells.
“This is a special club because it’s very close-knit and we haven’t got thousands of supporters but lots of these people have been here for life.
“Whether you support Manchester United or Dagenham & Redbridge, your team is your team and when you’re not winning it’s difficult but we’ve given the fans something here.
“The last four or five games I’ve seen us improve and it was just that little bit of belief we needed.
“I thought we fully deserved to win and it was an important win that will hopefully give us that bit of belief.
“We’ve got a lot of tough games to go but you’re almost better playing those games because you’ve got to be up for those games.”
Neither side boast an array of goals in their arsenal and were hesitant in pushing men forward early on. York thought they should have had a penalty when Dave Winfield fell under pressure in the box from Dominic Hyam but the referee waved away protests.
Goal mouth action was scarce but Scott Flinders had to be alert just after the half hour mark to bat away an effort from Ashley Hemmings.
Christian Doidge had an excellent chance in first-half stoppage time to head his side in front but sent it wide.
The game swung in Dagenham’s favour just before the hour when Russell Penn was shown a straight red for handling Doidge’s goalbound header.
Joss Labadie stepped up to take the resulting penalty but Flinders guessed correctly and saved.
Doidge was proving a menace and moments later attacked a corner well, only to see his header bounce off the upright.
Dagenham were dominating and the breakthrough eventually came with 12 minutes remaining when Hemmings crossed to Passley and he finished with aplomb into the bottom right corner.
York boss Jackie McNamara said: “The game-changer happened in the second half when it was a stonewall free-kick on Scott Flinders when he was first to the corner but their striker got the header and the referee decided it hit Russ on the hand and sent him off.
“There was still too many of us not on their game and not up for a real battle. In the end that was the telling point so.
“I emphasised before the game that they needed to win their oneon-ones and it’s little things like that make you angry as a manager. “They have to learn quickly because it is a fight and we are in a battle between now and the end of the season.”
PASS THE LUCK: Dagenham’s Josh Passley is congratulated after scoring the opening goal STAR MAN ASHLEY HEMMI